Check your References — Antiparty Sentiment

As part of Election 101, we are posting exclusive content from The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History on subjects related to Election 2012.

What is the history of antiparty sentiment in America? Stuart M. Blumin offers some insight into the origins of antiparty sentiment from our Founding Fathers to present day in this short excerpt.

Hostility toward the political party has been an important dimension of American culture from the earliest days of the republic. During the first three or four decades following the adoption of the Constitution, antiparty sentiment derived primarily from the central tenets of classical republican theory, as this ancient body of thought was developed and reshaped by British political philosophers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Particularly important were two related concepts: that effective and just government flows from the decisions of virtuous leaders pursuing the public good rather than their own or others’ private interests; and that the political influence of those interests and interest groups that do emerge within society must be transitory and contained, so that no single interest acquires enduring power over all others and over the republic as a whole.

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The preceding is an excerpt from The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History, edited by Michael Kazin, Rebecca Edwards, and Adam Rothman. To learn more about this book, please visit Copyright © 2011 by Princeton University Press. No part of this text may be distributed, posted, or reproduced in any form by digital or mechanical means without prior written permission of the publisher.